Connecting prospective foster care families with the right opportunity


Family Care Network Inc. (FCNI) is a non-profit organization that was founded over 32 years ago to provide family-based treatment programs to children and youth as an alternative to institutional care. FCNI currently serves San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties by supporting families and individuals impacted by trauma. FCNI serves over 100 children per month with over 21 programs intended to improve the lives of the individuals they interact with.


Like in many communities across America, there is need for sustainable family care in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. FCNI has run short on families available to help local youth, especially those in the 11-18-year-old range. This past year, FCNI had to resort to placing their employees in hotel rooms with children in need overnight, due to a shortage in foster care providers. The Central Coast needs more families and individuals willing and able to meet this critical community need. FCNI wants to modernize the conversation about fostering children, while making the process more accessible and understandable to potential foster providers

Innovation in Action

FCNI partnered with California Polytechnic State University’s Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) powered by Amazon Web Services, with the goal of connecting more families interested in foster care with the right child in need. In accordance to FCNI’s mission, ‘Always do what’s best for the children’, the team focused on promoting FCNI services and increasing potential matches between foster families and those in need of care. The team decided to re-imagine FNCI’s website. The new website engages users in a personalized experience, by collecting an individual’s response to survey data, analyzing that data based on counselor experience, and suggesting possible areas of care in real-time. This allows potential foster families to move farther along into the process in a way that doesn’t feel invasive or burdensome. By collecting relevant information and focusing on individual circumstances, the website will help determine the best possible opportunity to help the youth in need of support.

Technical Solution

System (CMS) to deliver information on the web. Rather than implement a solution that was specific to any particular CMS, the team decided to build a solution that was not so tightly coupled to a particular web technology. The team choose to build a Reacttm application that could easily be added to any existing website. The React application uses AWS API Gateway to pull survey questions and post survey results though serverless AWS Lambda functions that connect to a RDS MySQL database hosted in the cloud. The solution has minimal cost since it doesn’t use any EC2 instances and utilizes cost-effective AWS Lambda functions.


The updated website acts as a good template to demonstrate the potential of real time feedback for surveys. Since this solution primarily lives in the cloud, you could easily reuse this solution to run on any web platform that would support ReactJS. The questions and answers the survey uses are all within the database so it makes customizing the survey quick and effortless. This solution will hopefully assist the FCNI and other foster care organizations nationwide by making the process more accessible and understandable to potential foster providers. It will help people better understand the foster care system and potentially take the leap to give a child in need a place to call home.

Supporting Documents

Amazon’s Working Backwards process results in several artifacts that help inform and guide the end result. Below is a description of each and their purpose in the process:
Press Release & Frequently Asked Questions During the Innovation Workshop, a fictional Press Release and nonfictional Frequently Asked Questions are drafted. This is a tool that is used to define the solution and why it matters to the customer.
Story Board A series of frames designed to illustrate the problem and the impact of the solution visually.
KVEC Radio Spot A short radio program that highlights the solution and the benefit to the Family Care Network.
Overview Video A high level overview and brief demo of the solution.
Source Code Source code including Cloud Formation templates of our solution.

About the DxHub

The Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) is a strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is the world’s first cloud innovation center supported by AWS on a University campus. The primary goal of the DxHub is to provide real-world problem-solving experiences to students by immersing them in the application of proven innovation methods in combination with the latest technologies to solve important challenges in the public sector. The challenges being addressed cover a wide variety of topics including homelessness, evidence-based policing, digital literacy, virtual cybersecurity laboratories and many others. The DxHub leverages the deep subject matter expertise of government, education and non-profit organizations to clearly understand the customers affected by public sector challenges and develops solutions that meet the customer needs.